South Stream Transport has completed the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) for the Bulgarian Sector of the South Stream Offshore Pipeline.
The ESIA Report confirms earlier findings that construction and operation of the underwater pipeline is not expected to have a significant impact on the Black Sea environment or on the Bulgarian coast where the pipeline comes ashore. The assessment was prepared by international experts at URS Infrastructure and Environment UK Limited.
Both ESIA and EIA ensure responsible Project development
In order to develop the Project in an environmentally and socially responsible manner, South Stream Transport has conducted an impact assessment consisting of two parallel processes: an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in accordance with national legislation and an Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) in line with the environmental and social performance standards and guidelines of international financing institutions.
The EIA Report according to Bulgarian legislation concluded that the environment will not be significantly affected by the Project. It was approved by the Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Waters in February 2014.
The ESIA Report provides supplementary analyses regarding the environmental, cultural heritage and socio-economic aspects of the Project, including the Company’s ongoing efforts to engage with stakeholders on the Project. For example, the ESIA Report considers in more detail the impact of the Project on the population living in the vicinity, including any vulnerable groups. The assessment shows that the Project will bring some temporary local economic benefits as a result of additional employment opportunities and increased demand for goods and services during construction.
The document also provides an assessment of potential cumulative impacts as a result of the Project development and other existing and proposed developments in the vicinity of the Project Area.
The ESIA Report outlines a number of mitigation and protection measures which ensure that the Project does not have a significant negative impact on the environment.
Stakeholders are invited to provide feedback
South Stream Transport has consulted people on the Project from an early stage of development. In January 2013, the Company asked people for their feedback on a Scoping Report, which contained a preliminary impact assessment. In December 2013, public hearings were held for the EIA Report, in accordance with Bulgarian legislation. The feedback from this process has helped the development of the ESIA Report in which a wide range of environmental and social aspects are addressed.
Matteo Veronesi, Head of ESIA & Permitting of South Stream Transport B.V.: “The feedback process is to ensure that relevant and important issues are appropriately considered and that the EIA and ESIA reports provide a strong basis for the ongoing environmental and social management of the Project.”
South Stream Transport invites all interested people to review the draft ESIA Report and actively share feedback on it via e-mail, post or the company’s website feedback form. The draft ESIA Report is available online from 29 July 2014. Hard copies of the Report can be found at the branch office of South Stream Transport in Sofia, the South Stream Information Centre in Varna, the Priseltsi Mayorality Office, the Galata Cultural Centre as well as in Krushkite and Rakitnika.
South Stream Transport will consult NGOs and local organizations on the ESIA Report. In addition, people are invited to attend public consultation meetings in the Varna area. The meetings’ schedule can be found on the website of the company.